French football chief warns players to ‘respect’ Qatar ahead of planned rainbow armband protest


    Hugo Lloris will wear a rainbow armband at the World Cup while playing for France
    Hugo Lloris will wear a rainbow armband at the World Cup while playing for France (Picture: Getty)

    The president of the French Football Association has warned players that the rules of World Cup host nation Qatar must be respected.

    Noel Le Graet’s sentiments echo those of FIFA who last week wrote to all 32 competing nations urging them to stick to football during the tournament which begins next Sunday.

    Qatar’s human rights record and laws on homosexuality, still punishable by a jail term of up to seven years, have come firmly under the microscope ahead of the big kick-off.

    England manager Gareth Southgate on Thursday, after naming his 26-man squad, confirmed he would ignore FIFA’s guidance, while England will be joined by nine other European federations who will take part in the planned the OneLove anti-discrimination campaign.

    The captain of France, Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris, will wear a rainbow armband during his team’s matches but Le Graet feels his compatriots need to get their own house in order before lecturing other countries.

    He told L’Equipe: ‘We’re going to be playing in a country that we need to respect. If it has to be worn, we’ll wear it.

    ‘It’s not that I’m against the armband, but sometimes, I tell myself that we want to give out lessons when we should also look at what’s happening at home.’

    Gareth Southgate plans to ignore FIFA advice on Qatar

    “Frankly, I’ll choose if I’m going to speak or not and I’m pretty sure the players will as well. So I don’t think we’re necessarily going to be swayed by that communication.

    “That said, we’ve also got to focus on the football … but we will speak when asked, we will answer the questions and rightly so.

    “That said, we’ve also got to focus on the football … but we will speak when asked, we will answer the questions and rightly so.

    “I’m really conscious of how much we can affect. I think we’ve made the requests that the FA has been asked to make by the human rights organisations. I think we’ve pushed that and I’m not sure there’s a lot more we can say that’s going to be new on those topics, if I’m frank.

    “But we are in a position where we do have some influence and we have tried to use that influence and a number of the players have across some really good causes in the recent past. So we won’t stop doing that but there are moments also where we’ve got to make sure our focus is where it has to be as well.”

    Earlier this week, disgraced former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter confessed selecting Qatar as the host nation, a decision he presided over during his time at the helm, was a mistake.

    ‘The choice of Qatar was a mistake,’ Blatter told Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

    ‘At the time, we actually agreed in the executive committee that Russia should get the 2018 World Cup and the USA that of 2022.

    ‘It would have been a gesture of peace if the two long-standing political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the other.

    ‘It’s too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that.’

    MORE : Netherlands goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen ‘exploded with anger’ after being axed from World Cup squad

    MORE : Gabriel Martinelli responds after his Brazil World Cup call-up is called a ‘disgrace’

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